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  1. #11

    Default Re: Rookie Question... Fly Selection

    Thanks for the feedback everyone... I appreciate it. I'll have to spend some time reviewing the Orvis videos, and find a hatch chart specific for my area. And keep asking questions! I am new to fly fishing, but have been fishing for as long as I can remember. I grew up spin fishing panther martins on small brooks and bigger rivers, and so am familiar with reading water. I guess it's just the confidence in knowing what I'm doing is the right thing to do for a given river at a given time that I feel like I'm missing. Again, thanks for the feedback. I really like the K.I.S.S. approach with a few general, do-all choices. Thank you for the advice... keep it coming!

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  3. #12

    Default Re: Rookie Question... Fly Selection

    One thing I'd add. You made a good start. That way you were fishing will pay off.

    Wooly buggers are often a good pattern to start with, as are their parent, woolly worms. A small, black bugger resembles a minnow, a leech, a hellgrammite, even a crayfish depending how how you fish it. Easy to vary colors. One in olive resembles a damselfly nymph.

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  5. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    City of Angels, CA

    Default Re: Rookie Question... Fly Selection

    The more you get out there, the more you'll familiarize yourself with the biggest determinant, in my opinion, on what fly selection should be based on:

    1. Silhouette
    2. Size
    3. Color

    of what species are flying out there or swimming out there.

    I never realized how many species of caddis flies a simple Elk Hair Caddis, or how many mayfly species a simple Adams can resemble, until I realized that a good drift and presentation with little drag trumps having on "the secret" fly pattern. I've thrown Stimulators out there with success when the only game in town were a list of specific hopper patterns according to local fly shops.

    Flipping over a rock, to me, is a good start, but I've gotten too distracted with trying to match every thing that ran away the moment I flipped it over. Maybe my waters are different, but flipping over a rock is akin to handing me a menu, then asking me to guess what the guy at Table #2 is eating. I've only stumped myself even more, trying to match the half a dozen different bugs that scattered last time I flipped over a rock, rather than focusing on my presentation, and focusing on lies where trout may be. While it's a nice way to familiarize yourself with what kind of species live in that certain body of water at a certain time, it hasn't helped me accurately pinpoint what the fish are taking at that time.

    You could stomach pump these guys, but I kinda am unsure about doing invasive surgery to fish on the shoreline just so I can find out what they're eating.

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  7. #14

    Default Re: Rookie Question... Fly Selection

    Quote Originally Posted by mcnerney View Post

    Another thing to think about is reading the water, maybe the issue isn't your pattern so much as where you are drifting the flies or maybe like I said earlier, your presentation isn't the best. Fish aren't normally evenly distributed throughout the stream, get yourself a good book on reading water and learn where you should expect to find fish during different seasons.
    The Orvis Learning Center also has a series of videos on how to read a stream.
    How To Read Trout Fishing Waters -- Orvis
    ^^^ This ^^^

    I would guess it's more likely that you're fishing where there are no fish than fishing with the wrong fly. Or you're not getting a good drift.
    Zackdog lives.

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  9. #15

    Default Re: Rookie Question... Fly Selection

    Quote Originally Posted by darkshadow View Post
    You could stomach pump these guys, but I kinda am unsure about doing invasive surgery to fish on the shoreline just so I can find out what they're eating.
    Darkshadow - Stomach pumps are medically considered non invasive but I get what you mean.

    In fact, several years ago I listened to Tim Rosenbauer state that he did not stomach pump because he didn't want to kill fish. I do stomach pump becasue the facts are that using a stomach pump is no more a threat to the fish than C&R fishing. I wrote to Tom Rosenbauer and sent him the research and now he does state in the podcasts that stomach pumps are a way to get information on what the fish are eating.

    Just like I busted the that fallacy that barbless hooks are needed to preserve a fishery, if you search for scientific articles, what you find is that fishery scientists have done research. But the research is suppressed or more often is ignored by fly fishers because it does not feed into their preconceived beliefs. Stomach pumps are NOT a conservation issue but a choice issue. And the choice is up to the angler. My opinion is that they are a wonderful way for beginning fly fishers to gain real life experience in their own watersheds about what the fish are eating at the time the angler caught the fish.

    There is no better way to gain knowledge than first hand experience.

    Stomach pumps are a bit of a misnomer. The should be used as throat pumps. Here are the posts I make on the subject of stomach pump and I repost what I stated:

    fishing emergers

    --------- My original post is below:

    I am going to generate a bit of controversy with this post, but since the post is in the entomology section, I think this post is appropriate.

    Before catch and release became the way most fly fishers fished, fly fishers kept, cleaned and ate their catch. They had a very important advantage over a C&R fly fisher. By cleaning the fish, they gained knowledge about what the fish was eating when it was caught. So they could correlate what they observed on the stream and what fly they used to catch the fish, with what the fish was actually eating.

    When a fly fisher releases a fish, he has no knowledge about what the fish actually ate before he took the fly. There is a way to gain that knowledge without harming the fish any more than we do by taking additional time to photograph the fish.

    The solution is the proper use of a stomach pump, more properly called a throat pump.

    Secondly, before anyone posts that we are taking food out of the fish or that stomach pumps kill fish, allow me to provide a few facts.

    First to the argument that we are taking food out of the fish and robbing it of energy. The fact is that the fish uses up more of its store of energy during the fight to escape us than we take by sampling its throat. The argument that we are "robbing" the fish of food and energy is a hollow argument when made by a fly fisher whose goal is to hook a fish and fight it until it can resist no longer.

    As to the argument that stomach pumps kill fish, stomach pumps have been scientifically studied and they have very low mortality. Certainly catching the fish places the fish at greater risk than a stomach pump and much greater risk than doing a shocking survey on fish. I strongly believe they are less stressful that the grip and grin photos we all take from time to time.

    "Strange and Kennedy (1981) assessed the survival of salmonids subjected to stomach flushing and found no difference between stomach-flushed fish and control fish that were held for 3 to 5 nights."

    Stomach pump article:

    In the article above, the goal was to remove stomach contents. The goal of a fly fisher is to remove the throat contents which are the last few items eaten. Throat sampling is less invasive than stomach sampling.

    Tom Rosenbauer talked about stomach pumps on a podcast June 2, 2011 during his "Tom's Ten Tips for Identifying and Matching the Hatch" podcast. I was able to track it down.

    Go to the URL below for Tom's Ten Tips for Identifying and Matching the Hatch

    The Orvis Fly Fishing Podcast with Tom Rosenbauer

    Tom starts discussing stomach pumps at about 20:58 into the podcast. He says, ""I'm not so sure how safe that is for trout. I don't think there have been any studies done on mortality of fish that have had their stomach pumped. Probably most of them survive but you never know."

    I have corresponded with Tom Rosenbauer after he made those comments and I sent the research on stomach pumps to him. In his podcasts since then he endorses stomach pumps and in this last podcast (8/15/14 on Steelhead), in the fly box section, he talks about his findings when stomach pumping trout. So Rosenbauer is on board with stomach pumps.

    Carl Richards and Doug Swisher of Selective Trout fame used stomach pumps to gain the knowledge to write that book. Carl Richards wrote the chapter titled What Trout Eat in the The Complete Guide to Fishing with a Fly Rod published by Fly Fisherman Magazine, ISBN: 0-87165-013-4. The stomach pump is given over 3/4ths of a page coverage in picture and text on page 46. I quote from the text, "If fish are feeding underwater, two methods can be used to discover what they are feeding on. The best way is to catch a fish (usually one dummy can be taken using an attractor, fished wet, such as a Coachman) and pump his stomach with a simple stomach pump." From the caption for the pictures, "Above, a stomach designed for trout is an effective way of discovering what the fish are feeding on without harming it."

    More recently, Brian Chan has also recommended "stomach" pumps as a method of safe sampling. As a Senior Fisheries Biologist, he is probably aware of the above scientific article from reviews in Fisheries Science.

    Ruby Mountain Fly Fishers: Throat Pumping Trout

    Fly Angler's OnLine "Deanna Birkholm - Ladyfisher's Article - 9798"

    This is the method that I use:

    Fill the pump completely water and then push out 1/2 of the water by compressing the bulb. Insert the tube gently into the throat and release the bulb so the remaining 1/2 of the bulb re-expands sucking up the food into the plastic stem. If nothing comes out, then without pulling out the tube, compress the bulb gently push in some of the water and then suck it back but don't suck material back into the bulb. Now release the trout.

    The material in the tube should come out in the order that the fish ate it with the last item out being the one the fish ate last. You should not have the items into the bulb or else they will get mixed up and you won't know for sure what was eaten last. If you did suck material into the bulb, examine the food and the freshest item was probably eaten last.

    I rarely pump now since I usually know what the fish are eating. However, for the beginning fly fisher it is a wonderful educational tool. A portable sampling net and the stomach pump forms the two best methods of learning what the fish are eating.

    The best way IMHO to sample a fish with stomach pump is first to net the fish, no matter what it's size. Then before even taking off the hook, keep it in the net and in the water. Turn the fish upside down. This is almost always disorients the fish and keeps it from struggling. Quickly sample the fish, then drop the pump into the net, remove the hook and release the fish.

    You can then examine the sample after releasing the fish. This method is the least traumatic and I have found it to be the fastest way to release the fish. It rarely takes significantly longer than most people take to just remove the hook and release the fish. It is better than lifting the fish out of the water.

    Like many techniques in fly fishing, I believe using a stomach pump is what could be termed a fairness issue. Some fly fishers feel that nymphing is somehow unfair, and some nymphers think nymphing with strike indicators is less fair than fishing without. The Dry Fly vs Nymphing ethical argument originated with Halford and Skues and in some circles that argument continues to this day.

    Halford and Skues: "This Chalkstream Ain't Big Enough for the Both of Us" | MidCurrent

    So if you don't want to use a stomach pump, don't. But research has shown that stomach pumps are not a resource issue.

    The experienced fly fisher has little need to throat pump a fish. But for a beginner, I think it is a valuable learning tool that does not harm the resource.

    A throat pump is especially valuable when used in the context of fishing emergers. Emergers can be a difficult for beginners to sort out and a throat pump is one of the best tools in figuring out what is actually happening. Hence my suggestion that a throat pump is a valuable tool to study emergence.

    Truth be told, the greatest threat to a trout is the most effective fly fisher because they catch the most fish. Studies have shown that hooking mortality even with barbless hooks is 3.5 - 4%. We inadvertently kill 1 of every 25 fish we catch. Catch and release 1000 fish in a season and you have killed 40 fish. I have had 50 fish days on the San Juan and two trout probably died.

    This site is dedicated to educating fly fishers on how to catch more and more fish, but we do not consider this an ethical issue. Fly fishers, and I include myself, tend to forget that even C&R fishing with a fly is a blood sport.

    The reality is that as we become more adept at catching fish, more fish will die regardless of how careful we are.
    Last edited by silver creek; 07-03-2018 at 11:03 AM.


    "Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought"..........Szent-Gyorgy

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  11. #16

    Default Re: Rookie Question... Fly Selection

    Don't forget to try some "junk" patterns, greenie weenie, san juan worm, rainbow warrior, y2k... some times they just hit something brightly colored or shiny. We often give the fish too much credit.

    Also, if the water is moving and is 6' deep, you probably don't have your indicator high enough. Tungsten split shot or tungsten weighted nymph patterns can be your best friend. It's 1.74 times the weight of lead.

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  13. #17

    Default Re: Rookie Question... Fly Selection

    I've shared this site is a great resource for anyone, anywhere and definitely worth a read.

    Hatch Charts - How To Read A Perfect Fly Hatch Chart

    Another great one that should be no secret is the Orvis stream reports

    Vermont Fly Fishing Reports and Conditions

    With these tools.....these will get you in the ballpark.

    As a beginner.....don't overthink matching the hatch too much. It's amazing how much luck one can have with a good old adams, light cahill, elk hair caddis, hares ear nymph and a pheasant tail nymph in various colors in sizes.

    If you want to go down the hatch matching route gung ho...this is an excellent resource with identification of insects.

    Common Names of Trout Stream Insects



    If I fished only to capture fish, my fishing trips would have ended long ago.
    ~Zane Grey

    " . . . shouldn't a man stand on his own two feet and catch his own steelhead? Maybe put out some effort and find his own fish just for the fun of it?"
    ~Syd Glasso

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  15. #18

    Default Re: Rookie Question... Fly Selection

    Quote Originally Posted by clsmith131 View Post
    Also, if the water is moving and is 6' deep, you probably don't have your indicator high enough. Tungsten split shot or tungsten weighted nymph patterns can be your best friend. It's 1.74 times the weight of lead.
    Definitely a good call on the effectiveness of tungsten, but if he's anything like I was he will probably lose a lot of nymphs while learning! I would suggest holding off on tungsten nymphs until he gets his tippet lengths/indicator distances dialed in, otherwise he will likely lose a lot of cash snagged on the bottom of the river...
    Montani Semper Liberi

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  17. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Carmi, S. Ill

    Default Re: Rookie Question... Fly Selection

    Mr Foss22 - I think all of the replies given above are very helpful. One thing I would like to add is the value of a mentor. If you can spend a day with an experienced fly fisher you will get a wealth of information and experience. You will see how its done and find out the thought process that goes into all the little, but important decisions about what fly to use, where to fish it and how to fish it. If you don't have anyone around who can mentor you, pick a fishing destination and "buy" a mentor for a day. A guide. It will be well worth it - it can give you a great kick start to fly fishing effectively. Books and videos are great, but being on the water with someone who knows what they're doing can make all the difference. Good luck and enjoy!


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  19. #20

    Default Re: Rookie Question... Fly Selection

    The first thing I will say is since you have been fishing for as long as you can remember, even with it being spin fishing, you will catch on to fly fishing very quick. It will come to you naturally if you give yourself time.

    The biggest thing about fly selection in my humble opinion is it can be very overhyped. What I mean by this is you don't need every single fly that matches every single hatch on every single river. You can have a lot of success fishing only a few "classes" of flies. However, I will say it is always fun to have more flies so knock yourself out. As somebody already said on this post the biggest thing about fly selection is knowing size is probably the most important aspect of selecting the right fly followed by shape and lastly color.

    Simplified thinking can go a long way when it comes to fly selection. For example, I am a dry fly purist, and these are the flies I would suggest for fishing dries on any river.

    1. Parachute Adams (can imitate midges, BWO's, Yellow Sallies)
    2. Stimulators (can imitate stone flies, skawlas, drakes, terrestrials)
    3. Chubby Chernobyl (imitates a tasty hamburger that fish can't pass up; works well in the summer months, but can catch you the first fish on a dry fly in the spring and can catch fish late into November; throw this when fish aren't even rising and fish will still rise to this fly)
    4. Renegades ( can be very deadly pattern; is an attractor pattern that works year round even in winter as it can mimic clustered midges)
    5. Elk Hair Caddis ( classic pattern; imitates caddis obviously, but can be a great attractor and search pattern for big trout even in the heat of midday)

    And that is honestly what my fly box consists of and I have great luck with it. A lot of people get carried away with matching the hatch with the exact fly when in reality you need to match the hatch with a relative fly if that makes sense. Hope this helps if not I hope you enjoyed me going off on a tangent.

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